Building Leaders for Advancing Science and Technology (BLAST)

Frequently Asked Questions

APPLICATION PROCESS

 

Q: Can I apply to BLAST again if I participated last year?

A: No. To offer the BLAST experience to as many Virginia students as possible, participation is limited to once per student.

 

 

Q: I applied to BLAST last year but was not selected. Can I apply again this year?

A: If you meet the qualification requirements this year (see below) and have not participated in BLAST before, you may apply.

 

 

Q: What are the requirements to qualify for BLAST?

A: Students must be in 8th or 9th grade when they apply, with a B-/C+ minimum grade average (GPA at least 2.7). They must also be either a U.S. Citizen or a Legal Permanent Resident, and they must live and attend school in Virginia (public or private middle school, high school, or homeschool). Students must also be interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), but they do not have to have previous experience with STEM extracurriculars like clubs or camps.

 

 

Q: What does “rising high school freshman or sophomore” mean?

A: BLAST takes place during the summer after a student’s 8th or 9th grade year. Students apply during the school year as 8th or 9th graders but are considered “rising” 9th and 10th graders, respectively, during the summer before the next school year begins.

 

 

Q: How will I know you received my application?

A: The application system automatically sends an email to confirm each step of the process, so check your email frequently to be sure the student portion of the application, as well as the recommendation form and counselor verification form, are all received on time. You may also log in on the application system anytime to check the status and see what is missing. Your application is not eligible for review until its status in the system is marked “complete.”

 

 

Q: What does the “status” of my application mean?

A: Status refers to which step of the application process you’re in. Your BLAST application may show as registered, saved, submitted, or complete. If you submit your application and then log in later to check on its status, you will also see a status for each supporting document (recommendation and counselor verification.) Each term is explained below.

 

Registered– You have set up a log in and can use the application system, but you have not started your application.

 

Saved– You have started answering prompts and saved your work, but you have not turned in (submitted) your application. The recommender and counselor have not been notified about the forms they need to fill out. If you log in to check on your application after submitting it and find that one or both supporting materials are saved, it means the recommender (or counselor) has opened the form they received via email and begun to complete it, but they have not turned it in (submitted).

 

Submitted– You clicked the Submit button to turn in your student portion of the application, and your recommender and counselor have been sent an email with the online forms and instructions for completing them. Your application is not complete until both forms are finished and submitted.

 

Complete– All required components (student portion of the application, recommendation form, and counselor verification form) have been received through the application system and your application package will be reviewed by the review committee.

 

Blank– This status only applies to supporting materials from the recommender and counselor. The item will have a blank status if the supporter has not started working on the form yet, which was sent to the email listed in your application (system emails will arrive from notices@spacegrant.net).

 

 

Q: I registered but never received an email with a password so I can’t log in. What should I do?

A: Check your spam or junk folder for an email from notices@spacegrant.net (you can enter that email address in the Search area of your email). If you still do not see the registration email, you may have registered with an email that blocks external domains, such as a school email address. Return to the application page and click New User Registration to register with a personal email address.

 

 

Q: I finished my application, but I received a notice (or saw a status) that it is not complete. What should I do?

A: First, log in on the application page, check to be sure all prompts are filled in, then click Submit. If the status is “submitted,” then one or both of your support documents may be missing. Gently remind your recommender and counselor to submit the form that was sent via email from notices@spacegrant.net. It was sent immediately when you submitted your application and may have gone to their spam or junk folder.

 

 

Q: My recommender (or counselor) said they finished their form, but my application is still not complete. What should I do?

A: Please ask your recommender or counselor to open the form and be sure they have checked the certification box, then ask them to click Submit.

Selection Process

 

Q: When will I find out if I was selected?

A: It is expected that all applicants will be notified via email by the end of March. Remember to check email frequently for program updates. Updates may come from notices@spacegrant.net, or vsgcblast@odu.edu.

 

 

Q: How will I know if I was not selected?

A: All applicants will be notified of their selection status, either selected or not selected. It is expected that notifications will be sent by the end of March via e-mail.

 

 

Q: It is the end of March and I have not been notified of my status. What should I do?

A: First, check the status of your application by logging in to the application and making sure the status is “complete.” If it is marked complete, please email vsgcblast@odu.edu to ask about your selection status. If your application is not marked complete (it is submitted or saved), then your application was not eligible for review because one or more items were missing or submitted late.

 

 

Q: How are students selected for BLAST?

A: A complete application must be received by the due date and meet all qualification requirements (see About the Program) for their application package to be considered by the review committee. Selection for BLAST depends on several factors including verification of school information, quality of the recommendation, and quality of the student’s short answer responses. All qualified applications are reviewed by a panel of educators, and student selections will be made for the number of available slots at each university. Efforts will be made to ensure geographic and demographic diversity of selected participants as well as to reach students with limited access to STEM extracurriculars. Previous BLAST participants are not eligible.

BLAST PROGRAM

 

Q: What will students do at BLAST?

A: Activities vary a bit from year to year and by location, but the videos linked from our Home page are great examples from previous years. You can also read About the Program.

 

 

Q: Is transportation provided?

A: Participants are expected to secure their own means of transportation to and from the university. While transportation to BLAST is not provided, we may be able to assist students who are unable to secure transportation. Please contact BLAST program staff at vsgcblast@odu.edu if you are selected to attend and have transportation concerns.

 

 

Q: What time is check-in and check-out?

A: Students must check-in between 3-4 p.m. on the first day of the session and check-out between 8:30-9:30 a.m. on the last day of the session.

 

 

Q: Where will I stay during the BLAST program?

A: Students will be housed at a university dormitory and will share a room with another student. All meals will be provided, and students will be chaperoned by Virginia licensed teachers.

 

 

Q: How do I select a roommate?

A: Students will be assigned a roommate by BLAST staff.

 

 

Q: What if I have a medical condition that requires me to take medicine during the day?

A: Selected students will receive a Medical Release form for their parent to complete. Let us know about your medication requirement on the form and bring your medication with you during the day. If the medication must be refrigerated, we can make arrangements to access it during the day as long as we know ahead of time. Please note that BLAST staff cannot dispense medication.

 

 

Q: What will the protocols be regarding COVID-19?

A: It is too early to know the specific protocols that may be in place for BLAST sessions due to the ongoing pandemic. We encourage interested students to apply, and we will provide updates once those determinations have been made.

 

 

Q: What should I do if I am selected but cannot attend?

A: Students who attend BLAST must be able to participate for the duration of the program. A student who is selected and cannot fully participate should send an email to vsgcblast@odu.edu and decline the invitation. If you have accepted an invitation and later find out you are no longer able to attend, please send an email immediately to withdraw so that another student may be selected.

Please contact vsgcblast@odu.edu with additional questions.